At a Glance
Located: The Maiden’s Tower is Located Off shore of the Salacak district in Üsküdar
Great for: Gala diners, weddings, launch cocktails, a romantic dinner and proposals!
Visiting Hours: You can visit the museum and the cafe between 09:00-19:00 every day without reservation. You need a reservation for the restaurant part. Their phone number: +902163424747
Museum Fee: Adult-20 TL Student-10 TL
Restaurant Cost: Without drinks, the cost will be around 300-350 TL for two. Find more information below!
In this post, we will tell you about visiting the museum and the tower, reservations for the restaurant, how to get there, Maiden’s Tower history and the legends about the tower!
Day Visits to the Maiden’s Tower- Museum/Breakfast/Lunch
If you want to see the museum inside the maiden’s tower, want to have a drink in their cafe or enjoy breakfast/lunch on the island, here is the information that you need!
The museum is open every day between 09:00-19:00. You do not need any reservations for visiting.
Museum entrance fee is for adults 20 TL, for students 10 TL. Make sure you have your student card with you, otherwise they might not accept you as a student!
If you have a reservation for breakfast, the platter is 40 TL per person. Spreading breakfast is 75 TL per person but only served in weekends. Lunch prices are varied.
Dinner Visits/Bar Visits
You need a reservation for the restaurant. There are two menus that you can choose in between. Excluding the drinks, they are 155 TL or 185 TL. I will include a couple photos of the food as an example below.
- The restaurant does not accept children below 7 for dinner.
- The restaurant does not accept guests with shorts or track suits.
- The food service starts at 20:15.
You can also go to the bar in the maiden’s tower. The bar’s name is Kuledebar. You need a reservation for this very small bar for a night visit. For a fixed menu (cheese platter, snacks and a bottle of wine ot two glasses of local drinks), the cost is 190 TL for a couple.
How to Get There
You can get there by boats which is run by the Maiden’s Tower. Note: Salacak is in the Anatolian Side connected to Üsküdar. Kabataş is in the European Side connected to Beşiktaş.
If you have a reservation for dinner, they shouldn’t charge you for the ride after 20:15!
A tower on a little island…
This is Maiden’s Tower!
- The island itself had witnessed many emporers during its long history. Its history dates back to B.C 410. In those days, the Athenian commander Alkibiades, constructed a small tower on this island to control the passage of the boats from Bosphorus.
- In Roman Period, the first specific structure was built. This time they wanted to make two watchtowers for defending the city. One made near at the shore of Topkapı Palace and the other one was made on the island. The emporer constrained a chain between these two towers to prevent the enemy boats entering the Bosphorus and to take the custom tariffs from them.
- In Byzantine period, the tower was used as an installation during the conquest of İstanbul.
- In Ottoman time, Fatih Sultan Mehmet ordered the tower to built again as a stone building. Artillery was placed inside for defending purposes. After one of the biggest eartquakes in İstanbul’s history (in 1510), the tower was severely damaged and it was reconstructed in another Ottoman Emperor Yavuz Sultan Selim period.
- Maiden’s Tower was a stone building but inside had a wooden design. Inside of the tower was all burned down because of an oil lamb. Later in 1725, it was renovated by the head architect of the city Damat İbrahim Paşa. In that time, a dome and a stone lighthouse were added to the tower.
- Between 1830-1831 the tower was used in order to prevent the expansion of epidemic cholera into the city. Five years later than that, the tower was used with the same purpose against great plaque.
- In Republic period, 1943, boulders were placed around the tower to prevent it sliding towards the sea.
- Some old names of the Maiden’s Tower were Arcla (Little Tower), Damilias, Tour de Leandros.
- It has opened its door to public in 2000.
Maiden’s Tower is one of the places in İstanbul which has many legends about. Greeks, Romans and Ottoman people told different stories about this tower. Let’s look at two famous stories about the tower.
Poisonous Snake in the Basket
It has got different versions for Greeks-Romans and Turks.
- In old Roman period, the Emperor is told by the fortunetellers that his wife will be killed. The emperor sends his wife to the tower to protect her. He doesn’t allow anyone go there except himself and some certain maids. However, one day a snake in a basket sent to the queen gets out and kills her.
- In Seljuk time, one of the sultans sees a dream of his daughter killed by a snake. With fear inside, he puts her in the tower. Nobody including himself is allowed to go there. Years after, she gets sick and a doctor heals her. Then many gifts are send to the tower to celebrate it. Among the gifts, there is a snake in grapes basket and that snake kills her that night.
Hero and Leandros
Hero is one of the sisters of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love and she works in the tower. Since she is a nunn, she can’t fall in love and has no relationship with men.
One day, she crosses over the tower for a ceremony. There she sees a priest called Leandro and falls in love. Leandro feels the same about Hero. The only way they can see each other is Leandro swimming in Bosphorus towards the tower at night. One nights he starts swimming again but the lantern that Hero lights up to direct him to the tower goes off and Leandro can’t find his way to the tower. He suffocates in the water. Seeing this with her own eyes, the nunn can’t bear the pain and ends her life in cold Bosphorus water.
Enjoy your visit. Checkout the other islands!